Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Obama "Pivot"?

No Left Turns points us to a shift in Obama's rhetoric regarding Rev. Wright. Obama was smarter to let things lie as they did after the Philly speech - and let his allies, especially in the media, intelligentsia, and black church establishments, construct apologies (in the sense of providing arguments) on his behalf. By starting to shift his position, he risks ending up with what we might call the "Kerry" problem. Kerry lost the 2004 elections, in my view, largely because he couldn't explain what he *really* thought about the war in Iraq. His classic "I voted for it before I voted against it" fatally wounded his campaign precisely because it so perfectly exemplified his waffling and left him without a coherent narrative to pull the campaign together. Likewise with Obama, as he tries to subtly shift his positions away from Wright, it will become all the more difficult for him to explain that relationship. The questions will just pile on: now, instead of just having to answer why he stuck around TUCC, he'll have to answer why he's saying something different than he said before. The problem, I suspect, is that there's more Wright nastiness out there and that Obama has realized that while Wright probably doesn't represent a fatal problem in the primaries, he's a heavy burden to carry in the general election. But the "pivot" here (if that's what this is) may end up being the thing that does him in.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pelosi's Brave Dissent

WASHINGTON - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime critic of China's human rights policies, said Friday it would be wrong to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

She said in a statement that while the Chinese government has failed to live up to its commitments to improve human rights conditions in China and Tibet, "I believe a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would unfairly harm our athletes who have worked so hard to prepare for the competition.

Not to mention they'd cut off our supply of Elmo dolls.

Y'know, I could vote Democrat now and then if they were willing to pay a price, any price, some price, for their loudly expressed principles.

As I said in India last week where I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, if freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in Tibet, we have lost our moral authority to speak out on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world," she said.

Talk, talk, talk. At least Jimmy Carter was willing to hiss some people off by boycotting the 1980 Soviet Olympics after they invaded Afghanistan. Maybe not the best decision, but a principled one, one with a price, and to his credit.

Oh well, back to Bush, to make sure he doesn't get re-elected and invade Iraq again.



Jennifer Rubin over at Commentary's blog contentions picks up on something that's been bothering me about the whole Obama-Rev. Wright thing.

In his big speech in Philly, Obama essentially excused Wright by saying that he'd grown up under different circumstances and that his "static" views on race were thereby understandable, if still wrongheaded. It's a nice rhetorical move, even if Wright grew up quite comfortably and even if Obama's "distancing" coincided precisely with his presidential ambitions, but it doesn't quite square with the idea that Wright is somehow "brilliant," does it?

In my mind, if someone's pretty smart, they have the capacity to look beyond their own particularities (never perfectly, of course) and do better than Wright has done - he seems stuck in 1968. All goes to the idea that Obama's really just playing games here (and was probably playing games with his embrace of Trinity UCC). Just another pol, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh ye of little faith...

So the Obamas sure are chintzy with their charitable donations, at least when they're making less than a cool quarter-million. Or, to be even a bit more cynical, when they're thinking about running for president. So in 2002, the Obamas made roughly $260,000 and gave $1050 to charity. That's awful, simply awful. Obama's looking more like the most ordinary pol around every day.

But maybe there's a way he could turn this to his advantage. Maybe he could say, see, I wasn't all *that* invested in Rev. Wright's church - I hardly gave them any money most years. I just sat in the pews and heard all those sermons and thought about the wonderful things that the church was doing for the poor, things that I, of course, had nothing to do with financially...hmmm, maybe that won't work so well after all.....

So how is Obama anything other than an eloquent dyed-in-the-wool liberal law professor? He has no political views that the vast majority of faculty don't hold. He has been a part of a church that is defined as much by radical academic theories as by any biblical gospel. He makes claims to be close to certain people and then pushes others away whenever it is convenient for his political goals. He doesn't spend any of his own money helping others but thinks that others should have their earnings taken so that the state can spend it. And so on and so on...